At the finish of the Rocket 100 Air Race in November, the Sport Air Racing League — known as “racing for the rest of us” — crowned six National Champions for 2010: Gold, Silver and Bronze in both Production and Experimental category aircraft. The league’s chairman, Mike Thompson, sent us this report, which introduces all the champions.
First, Mike explains that the Sport Air Racing League provides a safe and controlled outlet for the competitive nature in pilots young and old, male and female, of experimental and production aircraft racing against the clock on a cross-country, multi-turn course. “SARL races can best be described as a combination of EAA chapter fly-in picnic and the Reno National Championship air races,” he said.
Racers vie for place in each race, which translates to point awards accrued during the season. The better the place, the higher the points. The more competitors beat in a class in a race, the higher the points. “In short, the season champions placed well in nearly all races held on the racing circuit throughout the 2010 racing season,” he said.
He also noted there is a class for nearly every aircraft flying, and the inclusiveness of the league was demonstrated most aptly at the last event of the year, the Rocket 100 in Taylor, Texas (T74), where a P-51D Mustang and a Cessna-150 raced, along with 40 other mixed production and experimental aircraft. ” The great thing is, it was impossible to tell who had more fun – the Mustang pilot or the C-150 pilot,” Mike says.
And now, Mike introduces the 2010 Sport Air Racing League National Champions:
Experimental Gold: Jason Rovey, Race 391, manages the John Deere proving ground in Arizona and flies an O360-powered RV-8 out of Wickenburg, Arizona, just northwest of Phoenix. Coming into the League like gangbusters, Jason began dominating the RV Blue class and has put heart and soul into race attendance. For him, it paid off handsomely and at the Rocket 100 Air Race (where he again finished first in class) Jason was awarded the prestigious SARL Gold.
Production Gold: Jim Porter, Race 448, flies a Cirrus SR20 out of Taylor, Texas. Jim’s aircraft benefits from its roots as an experimental kit-built all-composite design which was later taken through the certification process. Jim and his SR20 dominate the FAC3FX class, fixed gear with an engine size 200 to 239 hp. As an A&P, Jim keeps his aircraft in tip-top condition, and frequently combines racing with touring when attending races across the United States and in Canada. No stranger to the race circuit he, Jim was also SARL Gold Champion in 2009, and won SARL Silver in 2008.
Experimental Silver: Dave Adams, Race 83, hails from St. Louis, from where he has flung his O235-powered Long EZ far and wide to reap SARL points sufficient to win SARL Silver for 2010. Dave’s Silver win comes on the heels of his Bronze win in 2009 and there is no doubt he and his “Lawn Dart” will be a force to be reckoned with in 2011, sending all other Sprint class racers scurrying to their hangars to find a way to squeeze a few more knots out of their aircraft in order to beat him.
Production Silver: Chester Jurkis (pronounced Yurs-Kiss), Race 729, guided his V-tail S35 Bonanza out of Dallas on a frequent enough basis in 2010 to secure SARL Silver in the FAC1RG class – 280 hp and above with retractable gear. A marketing consultant, Chester also found time to host the Sulpher Springs 130 Air Race in 2010, and plans to be back as race host in 2011. The FAC1RG class is hotly contested in the League, and Chester will have to bring his best game to the 2011 racing season to match or better this year’s performance!
Experimental Bronze: Cam Benton, Race 41, is an RV-4 driver out of Lubbock, Texas, and race host of the West Texas 100 Air Race. Cam led the RV Red class (RV aircraft with 320 cubic inch engines) throughout the year, juggling racing and hosting with his vocation as a financial advisor. Cam ended the season with the Bronze, but just barely, as an injury kept him from running the last race and possibly acing Dave for the Silver. There’s always next year, Cam!
Production Bronze: AnnElise Bennett had a tough challenge this year – as last year – since her aircraft’s engine size and gear configuration pits her against Jim Porter’s Cirrus SR20, a much newer and more efficient design than her Cessna 182, in the FAC3FX class. When she can get away from her work as a medical data specialist, it’s her racer spirit that keeps her coming back to the races, tucked into that second place position just waiting for the class leader to make a mistake or get lost, and then she’ll POUNCE! As yet, however, that has not happened, so AnnElise and her trusty mount “X-Ray” brought home the Bronze in 2010; still a respectable achievement of which she is justifiably proud.